29 October 2018

Hotspots of Climate Change and State Fragility

A ground-breaking report by the University of Texas  for USAID points out how climate hazards like  cyclones, floods, wildfires, rainfall anomalies and chronic water scarcity relate to state fragility. Climate hazards put an enormous strain on the effectiveness and legitimacy in economics, politics, security and the social sphere.

Compelling maps highlight hotspots for both the criteria (climate exposure and state fragility). The regions with the highest climate exposure and fragility risk levels. The areas with the highest levels of exposure and fragility risk are: Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle-East and South-East Asia. The maps are particularly accurate and go beyond the traditional state-centric scale. They emphasise how different regions within a state have been affected by such factors, making it even more valuable, especially for large countries.

The study offers different angles to tackle the representation of climate exposure and state fragility. It emphasises how several million people are affected in India and Egypt for example, but also how in less populated countries a higher percentage of the population is affected (like in Cambodia and Mauritania). In absolute numbers India has more than 44 million people living in very high exposed areas (out of more than a billion Indian citizens). In the scarcely populated Cayman Islands 88% of citizens live in very high exposure areas. 

The authors suggest a systematic and significant mobilisation of finance to tackle such large-scale risks, although a sound and case-specific understanding for each region is required. Country-specific knowledge and fine-grained analysis are key elements in an effective policy response to such risks. In the current analysis by the University of Texas, detailed analysis is presented on Bangladesh, Colombia and Nigeria

In 2017 The Hague Declaration on Planetary Security offered six objectives to reduce security risk from climate change and other environmental stresses. The upcoming Planetary Security Conference in February 2019 will provide a first assessment and reflection on what has been achieved. It will point to new suggestions for action in key areas like renewable energy transition, urbanisation and land restoration with a focus on specific spotlight regions: Iraq, Mali, Lake Chad region and the Caribbean islands.